NEW YORK (AP) — Rick Reed, whose career as a big league umpire spanned three decades and included the classic 1991 World Series and two All-Star Games, has died. He was 70.
Reed, who kept working in the majors despite two strokes, died Thursday night. Born in Detroit, he was the plate umpire when the Tigers opened Comerica Park in 2000.
Reed first worked a handful of American League games in 1979 before eventually becoming a full-time ump in the big leagues four years later. He called the seven-game Series between Minnesota and Atlanta and also received All-Star assignments in 1986 and 1998.
Overall, he worked in the postseason seven times.
Reed appeared as the plate umpire in the 1999 movie “For Love of the Game” that starred Kevin Costner. Reed once said that while rehearsing a scene where Costner’s pitch sails over the catcher’s mitt, he got hit in the mask more than a dozen times.
“I worked my first game in the big leagues with him and he took me to lunch the next day. We didn’t even talk about umpiring, he talked about being a husband and father while doing this job,” veteran crew chief Ted Barrett, whose son also is a professional umpire, texted to The Associated Press.
“I also worked many years with Rick as my crew chief. He was a great umpire and he was a leader of men,” Barrett said. “Rick groomed many of us to be crew chiefs. He took an interest in our families and invited us into his family. His wife, Cindy, became a trusted confidante to our wives. Rick was more than just a crew chief, he was a mentor and friend.”
Reed retired from the major leagues after the 2009 season. He’d had strokes in 2008 and 2009, according to the Oakland Press, but he was able to return to the field and umpire the final big league games of his career. He later worked for the commissioner’s office as an umpire observer.
“I was proud to be an umpire in the major leagues,” Reed told the newspaper. “I took pride in being considered one of the 68 best in the world at what I do and I gave it everything I had.”
Reed was the plate umpire in 1992 when George Brett got his 3,000th hit as Kansas City shut out the Angels. The winning pitcher that day was longtime big league right-hander Rick Reed — the same name as the ump.
While he worked all over the country, Reed the umpire never strayed far from his hometown roots.
“Rick was so proud of Detroit, the son of a Detroit police officer. I loved his stories of growing up in the Motor City,” Barrett said. “And of course, he loved singing along to Motown music!”
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